Participation Award Magic – Vol 1

This is the first edition of Participation Award Magic, where everyone is a winner (except me most likely).  This series will chronicle my trips to The Comic Hunter for Tuesday or Friday night magic, including my deck, and what I’m preparing the deck to fight against.  After the article posts, be sure to check back for an update because I’ll be adding my results to each one, and including any upgrades/changes I would consider for the list that week.

For the inaugural voyage down this rabbit hole of psychological beatings and poorly executed matches of magic, I’ve built a brew based on an idea I’ve seen floating around online lately.
Induced AmnesiaHatching Plans
Rivals of Ixalan introduced us to Induced Amnesia, an odd enchantment that is capable of drawing a number of cards far above the curve at 3 mana.  However, it requires some work to do so since it needs to hit the graveyard to pay off.  Hatching Plans has been in the game since Guildpact, but hasn’t seen very much play, as the building requirements for both are similar.  Drawing cards at a very aggressive rate is worth playing around with, but the requirement to have it hit the bin is a serious building restriction and may ultimately be too much to overcome.
So, lets take a look at my list, and how we addressed these concerns.

Perilous Amnesia – Jeff Roberts

Creatures (6)
4 Extricator of Sin
2 Laboratory Maniac
1 Kefnet, the Mindful

Spells (23)
4 Fatal Push
4 Path to Exile
1 Esper Charm
3 Negate
3 Mortify
2 Spell Pierce
4 Perilous Research
1 Neverending Torment

Enchantments (8)
4 Hatching Plans
4 Induced Amnesia

Lands (23)
4 Celestial Colonnade
2 Dunes of the Dead
2 Flooded Strand
2 Godless Shrine
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
1 Plains
2 Polluted Delta
2 Reliquary Tower
1 Swamp
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Watery Grave

Sideboard (15)
2 Detention Sphere
4 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Pact of Negation
3 Supreme Verdict
3 Surgical Extraction
1 Search Warrant

The Engine

Like a great automobile, the first thing you need is a great engine.  Now in our case, using the term “great” is pretty loose. We’re going to use “bad” enchantments with big payoffs for jumping through hoops, while trying not to set ourselves way back in the process. Using simple “destroy enchantment” effects that are one sided will simply put us too far behind to make this strategy worthwhile, so we need to dig deeper into the dark corners of magic to find answers to that problem.
Extricator of SinExtricator of FleshPerilous Research
These two cards give us pure value from our enchantment engine.  Both cards give us a way to sacrifice an enchantment, and actually gain value off of it in the process.  Perilous Research plays the extra powerful role of pushing us towards are secondary win condition, which we’ll get to later.  Extricator is a great way to develop a board state incase our spot removal isn’t enough to handle aggro decks or to keep pressure on our opponents if they stumble as we bury them in card advantage.
Esper CharmMortify
I had mentioned earlier that “destroy enchantment” cards weren’t enough to justify including, which is why these two cards fit into that important backup slot for us.  They both have the ability to destroy our enchantments if needed, but importantly, they play alternate roles depending on the match-up, discarding cards, drawing cards, or destroying a creature.

The Payoff

So you’ve got your engine going, and you’re drawing more cards than you can even keep in your hands
Reliquary Tower
In this deck, Reliquary Tower acts as our backbone since it reads  “Add more cards to each Induced Amnesia” – also add one colorless mana if you need to.
Because we are going to target ourselves with our Amenesia, the larger we can make our hand before casting it, the more cards we’ll draw immediately, and the more we get back when we sacrifice it.  Alright, so we’ve got ourselves drawing a very large amount of cards now, but why?
Laboratory ManiacNeverending TormentKefnet the Mindful
We run a heavy collection of card draw effects and should ideally always have 7 or more cards in hand, so we’re running a 1 of Kefnet, the Mindful as a way to close out the game quickly that dodges most all removal beyond Path to Exile.  He plays the backup role as a way to draw a card at instant speed to win the game in very narrow situations.
Once you see a card like Lab Maniac show up in a list, you know that something dumb is probably happening, and hopefully that excites you.
Our card draw engine has the potential to literally deck ourselves, so we have Laboratory Maniac to win us the game out of nowhere. But to me, the cajun spice in this deck, and the reason I chose black as my third colour, is Neverending Torment.
Being able to spend the early parts of the game drawing obscene amounts of cards, attempting to control the board, only to turn around and start ripping my opponents deck apart EVERY TURN…. for the REST OF THE GAME… Well that’s just everything I love about this game.
Granted, a 6 mana sorcery speed spell is normally unlikely to find it’s way into a Modern magic deck, When they do, they need to help you turn the corner quickly.  If you’ve ever played against a U/W control list, you know that their finishers sometimes include Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.  If you’ve ever had her resolved against you, then you know the game quickly turns the corner.
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Am I claiming that Neverending Torment is the same as Elspeth?  Of course not.  Clearly it’s way better!!  I mostly am willing to die on this hill because your opponent will have to take it from your hand and say “What the &*5@ does this do?”
In our deck Torment is a backup clock.  If our opponent surgically extracts our Lab Maniacs, and we simply can’t get there with our creatures (of which there are few), then why not attempt to tear our opponents deck apart and leave them with no answers.  Maybe it’s just me, but that seems like a great backup plan.

The Sideboard

Because we are a control deck, we need to be prepared to fight off fast, aggro strategies and degenerate combo’s as well.  Our midrange game should be strong because of our wide suite of removal, so our sideboard starts out concerned with graveyard strategies and synergies.
Surgical Extraction
Because of the negative synergy between Induced Amnesia & Hatching Plans with Rest in Peace (They need a graveyard to trigger), we needed to look at alternatives.  Surgical extraction is a great follow up to one of our counterspells to permanently remove something that could threaten our gameplan. (like Rest in Peace for instance)
Leyline of SanctitySearch Warrant
Burn and Jund lists are very popular in this current meta, so we’re hedging against them with this suite of hate cards.  Leyline of Sanctity doesn’t require much explanation, it’s one of the best sideboard options against decks that want to Thoughtseize or burn you to death.  Search Warrant is a very spicy 1 of that, in this deck, may be capable of gaining you more life than any card in the game once your engine is turned on since you can target yourself and ideally will have an overly full hand of cards.
Supreme VerdictDetention Sphere
Because there are some decks that will attempt to go very wide, we have a few Supreme Verdicts in our board to clean up what our spot removal can’t.
Detention Sphere plays the role of catch all answer to permanents that could cause us problems (Planeswalker Ultimates as an example).
Pact of Negation
Finally we have the best counterspell in magic (with a pretty big drawback) to hedge our bets against any match-up that has the tools to disrupt our combo game plan.  U/W control is likely to be a slog, but if it goes in our favour the chances of us drawing our deck are high.  However, we need a way to protect ourselves, or more importantly, our Lab Maniac, when we want to go for the win.  Our main board Pact of Negation is there to accomplish that role, but sometimes you need a backup to really make sure you close the game out.  So to that end, there is an extra copy in the board.

The Results

Round 1 – Boggles 1-2
Round 2 – Mono-Black Obliterator 1-2
Round 3 – Bloodbraid Jund 1-2

Alright, so we can start with the bad news, our overall record was 1 – 3,  and our win came from our last round bye…  This doesn’t mean all bad news however.  We managed to take 1 game off each of our opponents, and aside from game one against boggles we kept each round very competitive and could have squeezed out a win if things had turned our way.
The losses highlighted some weakness’s in the deck, but also showed us some areas where our card choices made all the difference had they been different.  Lets discuss changes we would make based on our experiences.

Winners

Without a doubt, every time I resolved Kefnet in this deck, it was a real game changer.  Most decks cannot remove him, and he’s a brick wall against everything in the format.  I believe the deck wants 1 more of these in the main.
Extricator of Sin was an incredible threat everytime it was cast.  Even in situations where saccing a land was needed, he put up a difficult challenge for the opponent.  One of the changes I’ll be suggesting for the deck involves improving your chances for delirium because flipping him makes your board very threatening.

Losers

Laboratory Maniac feels like he may not be needed.  Although the deck is certainly capable of drawing itself out, I believe you have enough control over those draws that the cards in your hand should always  have value.  Normally I didn’t want to cast Lab Man because he felt like just a great target for removal, or as a vanilla 2/2.  I’ll be looking for replacement moving forward.
There were a number of times Esper Charm, and to a lesser extent Mortify, felt too narrow.  The majority of issues I ran into involved Planeswalkers and limited ways to interact with them.  This is something that needs to be added to hedge against them.  The 2 Detention sphere’s in the board are not enough.

Changes

The following are changes I’m looking to make to the deck moving forward to hedge against some of the issues I ran into.
1. Adding 1 more Kefnet to the main as an additional win condition
2. Adding 2 Engineered Explosives to the main as a catch all answer to 3 mana or less threats (like Liliana, tokens, or swarms of 2 mana creatures.  Side benefit, it can act as an alternate method of destroying our enchantments to draw additional cards.  It also helps fuel delirium, which the deck currently struggles to achieve.
3. Aside from the value of Fatal push, if we’re removing Esper Charms and Mortify’s, dropping Black completely in favour of Red adds some interesting options to our arsenal.  Lightning bolt, Crack the Earth (mmhmm), and I’m sure many more if I start digging.  This may be something I investigate in the future.

For now, I’d like to thank everyone for reading, and I’m looking forward to bringing you Participation Award Magic : Vol 2 in the near future.

Cheers

Jeff Roberts

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